Saturday, June 11th, 2005

Added Up

My first, and possibly only, NxNE show was catching Catlow, the new nom de plume of Natasha Thirsk, at the Cameron House on Thursday night. If the name is familiar, maybe it’s from her last band The Dirtmitts or if it’s just the surname that’s ringing bells, you may remember sister Kristy from mid-90s Vancouver outfit The Rose Chronicles.

Catlow played solo to a small but well-populated room, accompanying herself on electric guitar Billy Bragg-style. Her material was split up between quieter, delicate singer-songwriter-esque ballads and more aggressive rockers. The louder numbers were muted a bit sonically by the fact that she was playing clean and not especially loudly, but I liked the guitar tone – I thought it was more expressive than if she’d had a distortion pedal handy. With her sweet but edgy voice, Catlow is a bit of a throwback to the alternative 1990s when scrappy female-fronted rock bands were plentiful on the musical landscape – I hear shades of Juliana Hatfield and Veruca Salt in her sound and songwriting. There was probably a tip of the influence cap when she covered ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” (which you can also hear on her MySpace page).

Ususally more of a full-band guy, I was a little surprised how much I liked the dynamic of her performing solo. I hope I get the chance to compare and contrast if she tours in support of the first Catlow album Kiss The World, which is out on Tuesday and which you can order from the good people at Boompa. Check out the track that’s been stuck in my head for the past day:

MP3: Catlow – “Number One”

Last Fall, Mates Of State initiated a contest wherein fans would create their own videos for “Goods (All In Your Head)” and the best one would be chosen as the official clip for the single. The winner and runner-up have finally been selected and posted. The winning one is alright and has better production values, but damn if G.J. Echternkamp’s dance video isn’t the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long long time. If this is what it means to teach the indie kids to dance, then sign me up. Thanks to Brendan for the tip-off.

This is something I hadn’t expected to see – Billboard reports that Stars will be getting the remix album treatment courtesy of their peers in the Canadian indie rock firmament. In an experience that Torq Campbell likens to letting your friends redecorate your apartment for you, Broken Social Scene, Metric and The Dears, among others, will be remixing tracks from Set Yourself On Fire for release in album form this Fall. I’m not a big fan of remixes (or paying for remixes, anyway), but this could be interesting.

13 & God, the bleepy-bloopy supergroup featuring members of The Notwist and Themselves, will be touring their eponymous album through North America this Fall, starting with a September 15 date at Lee’s Palace. Further tour dates here.

So I’m this week’s feature in The Toronto Star’s “Blog Roll” column. I’m flattered by the shout out (national newspaper, yo) but find it a little ironic considering that I’ve blown off most of NxNE this weekend…

So as I mentioned in the past I’m looking for a turntable. Some reserach indicates that my parents’ old deck would probably need more in repairs and refurbishment than it’s worth (it’s 35 years old), so I’m looking elsewhere. It’s good to see there’s actually a selection of decent entry-level players available from manufacturers like Music Hall, Pro-Ject, Goldring, etc, but they’re still a moderate amount of money, especially considering that I don’t actually own much vinyl (though I did get another 7″ sent to me in the mail yesterday and am mildly frustrated I can’t play it). I’m trying to decide between spending the cash on a new table or waiting until an older 80s-era turntable comes across my path for considerably less. I want something decent and sturdy and won’t necessarily be a dead-end if I feel like going further in vinyland upgrading something.

I am wary of spending too much on a turntable for the sole reason that it sets a precedent that I would probably rationalize into upgrading the rest of my stereo system (well if I spent X on a turntable and I don’t have any records, then it stands to reason that I should spend Y more on my CD player since I’ve got over a thousand of those… etc), most of which is barely a year old as is. Suggestions? Any recommendations from Torontonians as to where to go the turn up a deal? The fact that I’ve already begun leafing through the LP bins at record stores is not a good sign… Vinyl = ultimate musical fetish object. My demise is inevitable.

np – Elliott Smith / From A Basement On The Hill

By : Frank Yang at 9:22 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. suckingalemon says:

    i was reading that today and i remember for the past few days how you said you’ve bascially blown off nxne, i guess the star just wanted to advertise it.


  2. The Infamous Jennifer says:

    Start with your parents’ turntable and take it to the turntable clinic at Bay Bloor Radio (http://…/)

    It’s free and the dudes there should be able to fix it up for you. That’s why i did and i have no problems with my system or turntable.

    Otherwise, you’re looking to spend A LOT on turntables in this day and age.

  3. Five Seventeen says:

    I agree with jennifer. Unless it’s super crappy.

    Otherwise I’d probably stick with a Technics deck. They’re likey to be the best lower end turntable that will still be around in 5-10 years (thus cheaper to repair)

  4. Paul says:

    Used Yamaha gear is usually cheap and utilitarian, but solid as a rock! Make eBay your friend.

  5. Matt says:

    Pawn Shops are a goldmine for Turntables

  6. Frank says:

    Five, Jen – Yeah, I’m getting my parents to bring their old turntable down for me tomorrow. It’s either a Dual 1210 (http://…/) or a Dual 1212 (http://…/), based on my memory. I talked to some repair guys at Brack Electronics down on Front and they estimated, worst case scenario, a new idler drive, cartridge, belt, power supply, etc, would run around $300 – that definitely puts me into new deck territory. I dunno, I’ll see if the thing even runs, check out that Bay-Bloor clinic and after getting it looked over, decide if it’s worth salvaging.

    I checked out the pawnshops last weekend – not that there’s many around anymore, at least not in the old strip. Not a thing. I’ve been cruising eBay too, but I don’t know enough about these things to risk buying one online, but I will keep checking it, craigslist, the buy & sell, etc… naturally, I will keep you all posted because I know you’re riveted by this drama.

    Really, I just want to get the LP version of Saturday Looks Good To Me’s "Every Night" because it has different mixes than the CD…

  7. Ninja says:

    dude, do you want to just listen, or do you want to manipulate the disk of grooves? belt-driven vs. direct drive.

    alot of online dj forums have used stuff for sale…just watch out for the starter kits that are a month old….there are good reasons why the seller is selling.

  8. Frank says:

    I just want to listen.

    I’ve got the 25-year old Dual 1210 at my place now, and to my surprise it still works. How well? I don’t know – it definitely needs a new cartridge and general set up, but I’m surprised at how well it works considering it’s been in mothballs for some time. I’m going to take it into a shop to see what’s involved with getting it back into good shape.

    And my sense of aesthetic won’t let me get a DJ deck. Those things are just butt.

  9. Ninja says:

    my only word of warning, having suffered with my dad’s deck for years…avoid cd-tray type action on a turntable. its just another part to break…and it might just be a pet peeve of mine, but waiting for a tray-style player to open seems much too long.

  10. Frank says:

    nope, no tray on this this thing. it’s na old-school suspended table in a nice wooden base.


    The automatic return is a little wonky, it doesn’t quite make it back to the stand, but other than that it seems to work. The sound is unbalanced between channels and sibilant, but I hope that’ll be rectified with a new cartridge and stylus.